The air is heavy, the sun is beating down, and there is no reprieve from the heat. This can only mean one thing: preseason is upon us. Preseason is an exciting time in many athletes' lives. It is the time where the foundation of the season begins. You get to see your beloved teammates, coaches and compete at the thing you love most. For some, preseason may bring a bit of anxiety and fear. What are ways that you can enter this time with confidence and joy in your heart, you ask? Try the following tips listed below.
Make a checklist of items you need to mark off before the start of the preseason.
- Have you completed and submitted your physical?
- Do you know your training session times?
- What equipment do you need for your sport?
- Have you checked your game/scrimmage schedule on your school sports website?
These are all the logistics you need to think about. Checking your schedule to avoid conflicts or communicate conflicts to your coaches in advance is key to setting yourself up for success. You will have less anxiety and be able to maximize the time you are with your team.
Perhaps you’ve trained every day since we departed in June, or maybe you’ve taken this summer to relax and unwind. Either way, start now. This will pay off in the long run. If you haven’t worked out in months, start slow. Short sprints are a great way to condition for any sport. Core exercises can help with stability and power. Start practicing with a friend, parent, sibling, or by yourself. There is no time like the present.
Stretching is one of the most overlooked yet important aspects of the sport. It allows your body to perform at rigorous levels day after day. This is important to do before and after sessions. Before you train, you want to perform a dynamic warm-up. Following training, static stretching is best.
#4 Fuel Your Body
I like to think of our body as a vehicle. If you want your vehicle to perform at its best, you have to provide it with high-quality fuel. How do you want your vehicle to run? Slow, jumpy, and leaky, or fast, powerful, and smooth? That’s your decision. To optimize your performance, and keep you safe, be sure to drink plenty of water hours before, during, and after your workouts. Sports drinks such as Gatorade can help replenish your electrolytes, but keep in mind that you may want to mix with water if they have too much sugar. It is vital to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with additional snacks throughout the day. Avoid fried foods and sweets. Stick with proteins, fruits, vegetables, and other foods in their most natural form as often as possible.
#5 Rest and Recover
Sleep—one simple five-letter word that controls so much of your life. It is said that adolescent and teen athletes need at least nine hours of sleep. How close are you to this benchmark? Do you often not realize the number of hours that are ticking down to bedtime, and you’re scrolling on your phone or catching up on your latest binge on Netflix? Do your best to put your device down an hour before you go to bed. Your body and brain will thank you for it later.
Ben Franklin said, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” How will you prepare yourself for this next chapter in your life as a student-athlete? Do the next right thing. Start now. You can do it. I know you can! At Sanford, students in grades 7-12 participate in interscholastic, competitive athletics throughout the school year. Find out more about our Athletics program.
Caitlin Brooks is the Associate Director of Athletics and a Health Instructor at Sanford School. She received her Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Performance from Virginia Commonwealth University. Caitlin played field hockey in college and is currently the coach for Sanford's field hockey and girls' lacrosse teams.